Rapid Eye Reality -- Home of Brad Willis' writing on family life, travel adventures, and life inside the poker world

About Rapid Eye Reality
Poker Papers
Up For Poker Blog
Up For Sports Blog
PokerStars Blog

Currently reading:

2007 Reading List

Barack Obama
Devon Epps
Mt. Otis
Mental Massage
Tiffany Souers
TV News

Blogroll RER

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from OT!S. Make your own badge here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best of Rapid Eye Reality 2007

I struggled with whether to do a retrospective, a best-of, or a "State of the Otis" post to end the year. Because I've already written a 2500-word retrospective for another site and I'm feeling lazy, I won't be doing that here. Because I rarely have any idea of my current state (least of all now). That left me with a best-of. It sounded exceptionally cocky to me, until I realize that there is always a best-of something, even if it's the best kid in a classroom full of morons or the best prisoner in a pen full of murderers. So, here's the best post and best picture from each of this year's 12 months.


Otis and the Magic Door..."when a large, dark, Bahamian man confronts you when you're alone, the first thing you do is swallow your balls out of your throat and remember you're actually in what at least reports itself as a five-star resort. Chances are you're not about to get rolled."

The wife and I on New Year's Eve and getting ready to tackle 2007 -- taken by my friend, T


Lapsed--"Scissor-cut the sides and back pretty short, the top not as short, but still short, take most of the bangs off, bring the sideburns most of the way up," I said. With Michael just a few feet away, it was like directing a stripper--or worse, a prostitute--while my wife was watching.

This picture was actually taken in 2006 by my friend Pauly, but it got posted this year as a look back at the past few years of my professional career. This picture captured my professional life since 2005 better than any other


Timeless--"My wife and I have occasional discussions about how we're becoming more summer than spring chickens. Ten years ago, we had our lives ahead of us and could afford to be bohemian and lazy. Now, it feels like each month slips away a little bit faster. We've managed to succeed on a lot of fronts. We're financially comfortable. We have a beautiful son, a home, a dog, two cars, and very little debt. It is the American Dream...which we managed to accomplish in spite of ourselves."

I took this photo a few days before I left for an international work trip. It till reminds me how sweet and perfect my family can be


Jungle--"we recognize that we're in the jungle and it appears to be the only jungle we have. And that's what makes our eyes sad. When people look at us and say, "Dance, monkey," we can choose not to. However, that doesn't change the fact we're pretty much trapped."

My dad and my kid, taken at the zoo.


No post this month. Even in a best-of, some months are going to be stinkers. So, two pictures instead.

My friend asked me to take some pictures of his kid playing ball. This was my favorite

Dinner in the Dark...I was in Missouri visiting my family. Twenty minutes before we sat down to eat, a typical Missouri storm blew through and knocked out the power. We ate by the remaining sunlight and flickering candles.


Sick Boy--"(Las Vegas, NV) She's an Asian woman who doesn't speak a ton of English, but I imagine her conversation in the housekeeping room of my floor goes like this.

Housekeeper #1: The boy in 012, he sick boy. He have problem.
Housekeeper #2: It's Vegas, everybody has problems.
Housekeeper #1: No, he sick boy! He masturbates! He cokehead! All day long!"

I took this picture in June, but it didn't appear on this blog. I've taken a lot of pictures of Isabelle Mercier in the past few years. This is one of my favorites from 2007.


The Devil and Mr. Otis--"I remember the slightest of chills. The guy was probably in his mid-20s, but his eyes said he was a thousand years old. When we got on the elevator together, he stole a brief glance at my Nikon.

'You getting some good pictures?' he asked.

Those were the first words the Devil ever said to me."

No picture this month.


No key to the gnocchi--"...There's nothing I can't do with a potato..."

A photo I took in 1997 of my buddies in Scotland...posted this month to mark the end of one of their bachelor lives


Suburban Landscapes--"Corner Bastard lives up the street and around the corner of my little cookie cutter neighborhood. He drives perfect little cars, has perfect little bushes, and has a lawn of green fescue that not only is the pride of the neighborhood, but has managed to emasculate me in such a way that I can barely drive by without reminding my wife that I was "man enough to give her a baby, so stop looking at the damned grass like you want to have sex on it.""

No photo.


Lifespan--"Ray wore sunglasses, a work hat, and a stained shirt. His hands bore all the signs of a career in manual labor. He worked with a silent deliberation. I stood on the sidewalk and wished I'd worn something different. I was in a pair of jeans--a little too tight--a graphic tee and a pair of Ecco shoes. To anyone driving by, I was that guy from the nearby suburban neighborhood where men don't change their own car batteries. I was about to stick my head under the hood, too, just to keep up appearances, when Ray emerged."

Kid Hero--My boy on Halloween


Amanda Smith arrested in death of son, Devon Epps--"It has been determined that Devon Epps death did not occur in the manner in which it was reported by his mother," Loftis said. "Amanda Smith is responsible for the death of her son."

I sent one of my guitars to a buddy in Iraq.


Afflicted--"Daddy, I am making the perfect drum," he said, as if it were the most natural goal in the world.

"Who told you to make the perfect drum?" I said, making sure the roux wasn't sticking to the pan.


My son, just a week ago

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sleigh bells ring...

I was a good daddy. I only drank three beers while assembling the Thomas the Tank Engine Trundle Table. I was in bed by 11:30 and asleep by 12:30. Still, the boy's early rising meant I was a stumbly mess come Santa time.

Before we let the kid out of his room, I staggered downstairs, grabbed a Diet Coke, and found the video camera. As an afterthought, I decided to turn on the Christmas tree lights. We got a bigger tree than usual this year and getting behind it to plug in the lights is a challenge. What's more, we have child-proof (and sometimes adult-proof) electrical outlets in the house. Without impediment, the process of inserting plug is rather simple. When a giant evergreen is poking me in the belly and jingle-jangling with all its holiday might, the process is decidedly more difficult. When I'm barely awake and trying to hurry, there is bound to be more than a couple four-letter words. When an ornament fell off and hit me in the head, I uttered a couple of words that, if had Santa heard, would've landed me on the naughty list for the next couple of years.

Finally, though, the tree was alight and I was on my way back upstairs to retrieve the boy and his mom. Once there, we spent a few minutes looking at the note Santa had left for the boy on a magnadoodle and looking at the mostly empty plate of cookies. Just as we were getting ready to go downstairs, it happened. My fat body ramming into the tree had loosened the hold of a ball-shaped bell. Further, this ball-bell had decided this was the very moment to fall and make noise all the way to the floor.

After several weeks of preparing for the perfect day, my fatigued mind saw this as the first sign we were headed on the road to disaster. This feeling lasted for all of one second. Then, the boy's eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "Santa!"

My loving wife looked at me as if it to say, "How did you do that?"

I shrugged and gave her a look back that said, "That's just how Santa rolls."

By the time we made it downstairs, Santa had made it outside. We just missed him.

Despite all my cussing, beer-drinking, and tree-abuse, I guess I never made it to the naughty list this year. I got the best gift of all.

I got to see my kid's eyes light up on Christmas morning.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Winter's nap on Mt. Otis

Let's be honest with ourselves here. I've woken up in a really ugly mood for the last few days and had no real excuse for it. Today, I woke up at 7:45am when my kid decided it was time to play drums. I figured it was time to wake up in a bad mood again.

And then I didn't.

And so begins the next 36 hours of holiday goodness. I've started getting gifts together. I have a turkey ready to brine and a ham ready to glaze. I'm going to make some bisque for dinner tonight before I settle into Santa assembly-mode (which reminds me, I need to chill some beer).

So, enough for the blogging for a few days.

I'm ready to see some eyes light up.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Giuliani’s Headache

It's always fun to figure out what "flu-like symptoms" really means.

If you missed it, Rudy Giuliani was admitted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis last week with what was initially described as flu-like symptoms. Now, he says it was a headache. This is what Giuliani told ABC's George Stephanopoulos this morning, with my emphasis in bold.

"It got really bad at night, when I was speaking to a crowd and did a press conference," said Giuliani. "I got on a plane -- I imagine what happened is the pressure of the takeoff made the headache worse than I've ever had."

Giuliani was given a clean bill of health...by his campaign. We're still waiting to hear officially from the doctors. We should also remember, Giuliani is a cancer survivor, having--as far as we know--kicked prostate cancer in the ass.

What I find interesting is that no one has asked him so far about that headache. See, having some experience in this area, I know what "the headache worse than I've ever had" is synonymous with in the medical world. Patients suffering from subarachnoid hemorrhage due to rupture of a cerebral aneurysm routinely refer to the feeling as..."the headache worse than I've ever had."

We can feel pretty confident Giuliani is okay. Otherwise, he wouldn't be out of the hospital right now. Still, I have to wonder about those final few minutes before his campaign plane turned around on its way out of St. Louis.

There are a ton of hospitals in St. Louis. I have no way of knowing which hospital was the closest to his airport. What I do know, however, is that Barnes-Jewish has the best neurologists and neurosurgeons in the entire state of Missouri. That's not to mention, it is one of the top ten neurology and neurosurgery service hospitals in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.

None of this is scandalous, by any means. There is nothing political about Rudy Giuliani not having a ruptured aneurysm. What is interesting, however, is the lengths to which the campaign is going to not discuss it and not use the phrase "feared ruptured aneurysm."

Weakness, even weakness that doesn't exist, is a killer in politics, and no hospital in Missouri or anywhere else can fix a public perception that a candidate might be too fragile for office.

So, in this case flu-like symptoms was almost certainly fear of a ruptured aneurysm.

Better than herpes, I guess.

Labels: , , ,

Holiday groceries

I always park near the cart corral, no matter the weather. It usually means a longer walk into the grocery store, but it means less time finding a place to put my cart when I'm done with my shopping. I picked the Bi-Lo today, because it was closest and I'm feeling mentally and physically lazy.

Bi-Lo is really a terrible grocery store, but I'm not in the best of moods anyway, so it followed that I'd fit right in. Back in the days of Melrose Gulfman, a heady time when my late friend was planning his next move from a dark little apartment on Haywood road, the Long Island native would spend inordinate amounts of time pouring over the Bi-Lo ads for the best deals. As I walked into the store, I thought about how I missed my friend and his "not from 'round here" phrases. He was the only guy I knew in these parts who would start a sentence with words like, "I went food shopping and was standing on line..."

Cold drizzle made psychedelic runners of road oil in the parking lot. I looked like a dandy as I jumped over the puddles and made my way inside. The shopping carts were all wet and soaked my list before I had time to memorize it. It was too hot inside and I regretted wearing a sweater. I settled into a familiar path around the store, paying less attention to what I was knocking into my cart than the people around me.

Grocery stores are different in the last few days before Christmas. The people inside are not normal shoppers. They are holiday food gatherers, on errands, on last-minute runs, on missions of escape. On the eve of Christmas Eve, the holiday get-togethers are starting to gather steam. Families have now spent a couple of days get used to being around each other again. The shopping for the holiday meals needs to get done.

I first noticed the blonde mother who couldn't stop smiling. She was tall, thin, and walking with a sense of such gleeful purpose, I was sure nothing would stand in her way. She had given up the cart in favor of her more useful and expedient arms. The loaves of bread and cans of food were certainly items she had either forgotten or decided later she would need. Now that her boys were home for Christmas, she would cook a big meal in celebration. She never stopped moving and she never stopped smiling.

In another aisle, I spotted another blonde mother. This one moved slower. She was tall and large and didn't crack a smile. She paused in front of the shelves and looked without aim. I didn't look in her cart for fear of seeing something depressing--a frozen dinner, maybe. Her face told most of the story anyway.

A three-year-old kid bounded out from behind a display. If I had been moving any faster, I would've run over him. As I maneuvered around him, I looked down the row. His dad was there on what was certainly an errand directed by a harried wife. The dad, despite having to corral his kid, looked thankful for the relative quiet of the store.

Two forty-something men in plaid coats and blue jeans walked together. I knew in a second that they were brothers. Their scruff and gait were the same. The smiled and laughed as they walked. No doubt, they haven't seen each other in a while and are getting together at their folks for the holidays.

In the beer aisle, men lingered. It was here that they did their only real thinking. Some of them wondered how much they would have to drink to get through the weekend with their family. Others wondered how much they would have to drink to get through the holiday alone. Two other brothers took a different tact. With huge smiles, they grabbed case after case of Bud Light and piled it into the shopping cart. When they were finished, the beer was stacked four feet out of the cart, not to mention filling the bottom rack and in the child's seat section. It took both of the brothers to get to the cashier. I didn't bother trying to guess. I was just glad I wasn't going to be with them on Christmas morning.

As I made my way to the cashier, I heard a familiar voice and followed the sound up to the face of an old friend. She was on the phone and looking in another direction. For a reason I still don't fully understand, I ducked down another aisle and turned my back to her. I had no reason to avoid her, other than I just didn't feel like talking.

Maybe I didn't want her looking in my cart and trying to figure me out.

Outside, it was still drizzling. I threw the bags in the back of my car as fast as possible. When I was finished, the cart corral was right there.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday trickery

It's downtown Greenville on a cold December afternoon. A magician has worked up a sweat, torn off his coat, and is working the crowd to a wash of smiles and belly-laughs. It looks like a carnival shell game, except he's not fleecing anybody of anything except their disbelief.

When the trick is complete, the crowd applauds and the magician throws his coat back on against the cold air. As he re-organizes, someone tells him they know how he did his trick.

"That's why you shouldn't stand behind me," he says.

Later, we leave a toy store and find ourselves in a sudden snow storm. While it's cold outside, it's not cold enough to snow. It takes little investigative work to determine that a local gallery owner has decided to add to the holiday cheer with a soap-sud snow blower. Perched in a second-story window, the snow-machine is making one quarter of a city block look like New England on Christmas.

Because I'm a jaded adult, I'm finding more to watch in the red-eyed homeless guy and throngs of holiday shoppers. The boy, however, is wide-eyed and screaming. To his three-year-old mind, it's a sign that everything good about the holiday can't get better.

"It's Christmas Eve!" he screams to everyone and no one in particular.

He can't hear me when I tell him Christmas Eve is still a couple of days away. Even if he could, it wouldn't matter anyway. For him, a few cents worth of soap and a snow-making machine are all he needs to be happy for an afternoon.

I can't say anything else. I simply look at him through a lens and wonder if I'll ever be so innocent again. I'm reminded later that because I'm jaded and paranoid doesn't mean I should deliver the mental tension of the father on the son. I try to remind myself of that and hope for the peace to do so.

Because, when I see this kind of joy, I should want to do nothing but make sure it lasts forever.

More from the holiday camera at my Flickr account.

Labels: ,

Glory be

When my wife answered the phone, I let loose a string of profanity that made even her blush. This is the woman who uses four-letter words in job interviews and to describe puppies.

"What? You've been in a wreck?" she said.

I was about to run my car off the road, but I hadn't crashed yet. Instead, I had just discovered that one of two listenable radio stations in G-Vegas (96.7 WBZT, The Buzzard) was about to switch formats. The jock sounded like he no longer need a strap and was promising that the big news was coming on Christmas day. Despite the fact that the station was biding the time in the interim by playing the Pointer Sisters, I knew what was coming. Indeed, I checked an industry message board when I got home.

Inspirational Top 40? When was the last time anything in the Top 40 inspired you?

I discovered demise of decent free radio as I drove around on one final Christmas shopping run. It occurred to me when I left that Christmas time would be a very easy time to engage in adultery. This morning, I was able to leave the house without telling my wife where I was going or when I would be back. When she called to inquire about lunch, she told me what she'd like to eat. "But that's probably not convenient to where you are," she said, obviously looking for a little hint. I didn't give it up.

When I got home with her sandwich, I told her about my adultery theory.

"I'm glad you've thought this out," she said.

Obviously, my attempt at holiday humor was lost. I really should get in the spirit of things here. And what better than Inspirational Top 40, right?

While eating my sandwich, I perused the news and discovered that Texas has gone and done it again. The legislature is about to impose a $5 per customer charge on strip club patrons. Now, I haven't been to a strip club in years (except to play poker, of course), but this seems a little more than unconstitutional to me. Like most sin taxes out there, the revenue from this one is going to a good cause--in this case to help rape victims. Still, it's really dangerous to start legislating morality, and further punitively taxing that which the lawmakers can't eliminate. The story linked quotes a constitutional expert as saying, "Laws like this would expose any unpopular industry to punitive taxes. It could be abortion clinics."

Well, that would be a really solid argument, but for the fact that many people who don't approve of strip clubs would probably be behind the taxation of abortion clinics as well. Perhaps a better way to test it would be to assign a $5 surcharge to listeners of an Inspirational Top 40 station.

Either way, I'm certain of this: The music in the strip clubs is better.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And you want to be my latex salesman...

It's a smoky room with a big screen TV, leather couches, and a poker table. It's where I spend one night a week with a collection of salesmen, developers, engineers, retirees, and dentists. It is where, if only for a few hours a week, we are men. It is a place where we can tell dirty jokes, sling some cards, and talk about the one guy at the table who once hired a hooker and ended up giving her a massage.

Deep down, though, we are romantics. The married among us talk about our kids, our wives, and how we do our bests to be good husbands. Take for instance the one man who bought his wife a laundry list of Christmas presents that ended with, in his words, "A new set of tits."

You know, romance.

"Quite a gift," I said, "I only bought my wife new eyes." Then I made a self-deprecating comment about how my wife can now see how inadequate I really am in the bedroom.

The host sought to comfort me. "She already knew," he said.

I am happy with the more intimate side of life with my wife and can't ask for anything more. She doesn't need any plastic surgery help and she is as forgiving as any woman can be when it comes to having to spend the rest of her life with my mess of a body. Still, I often wonder how long a woman in her thirties will put up with my aging, wrecked form.

That's my way of explaining how I--out of sheer, morbid curiosity and nothing more, I assure you--I ended up clicking through a web ad and running into Dr. Al Sears. I'm not even 100% sure what he has to offer, because I barely got past his header graphic.

Dr. Al Sears has his own website and seeks to instruct men over 40 how to reclaim their manhood. Whoever is behind it, whether it be Al himself or some other ad genius, is spending no small amount of money to pimp this plan online.

I ask this: If Dr. Al had spent $10 more on his ad campaign, would somebody have told him that the first step in selling his product is taking his picture off the web page. Or, at the very least, shave the damned 'stache.

Now, I'm no Adonis. I'm barely good looking enough to get my kid to give me a goodnight hug. The dog only licks my face if I've shaved. I'm brazen enough to put my picture on the top of this web page, but I'm not going to tell you I can help you make your sex life better. Even if you put M.D. behind my name, people are not going to buy into my inverted pile driver experiments. And yet, Dr. Al is spending untold amounts of money to put his face on a web page that promises to allow you to "have enough stamina to play golf in the morning, go for a jog in the afternoon... and still make love to your wife or lover at night!"

I wouldn't trust the guy to change my oil, let alone talk to me about my dipstick.

Dr. Al should take a page from the Oprah-iffic success of the guy in the picture below, self-reported badboy Steve Santagati. Even if he is full of mincemeat, he's going to sell his book because he is attractive enough to make my wife shift around under her laptop.

Mind-blowing as it is, there are people who will get past Dr. Al's face, scroll down through his page, and eventually buy his books and self-improvement plan. Still, I can't get over the belief that the last time Dr. Al had sex was the early 80s blockbuster, "White Bun Busters."

Regardless, I'll have something to talk about at the next poker game--as long as my copy of "12 Secrets to Virility" gets here in time for Christmas.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What the Huck?

Let's forget for a moment that one of the most important elections in our lifetime is eleven months away. Let's forget that the amount of money being spent on the campaigns could feed the homeless for untold months. Let's even forget whether we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or from Bob Jones University. Let's just ask ourselves for one moment, "What the Huck is going on?"

I'm no expert on the subject of media manipulation, but I have some history in its analysis. As you might know, the biggest television honor I ever received during my time in the business was a Best of Show at the National Headliner Awards. During that time, I spent more than a few hours talking with the people who make it their jobs to manipulate what you see and hear on television during campaign seasons. These people are exceedingly smart when it comes to understanding how to twist the common mind into believing something that either isn't necessarily true or needs a lot of reaffirmation. I usually started my analysis with the belief that the people behind the campaigns were full of hooey and worked up from there.

The most fun of the entire gig was not the wide recognition or appreciation for the work, but the daily battles with the people in campaigns that you never see--the producers, the fixers, the managers. They are professional manipulators and watching them work is a thing of sick beauty. They know how to manipulate the public. They know how to manipulate reporters. They even know how to manipulate other campaigns. It's game theory, politics, and war wrapped into one overwrought mind.

That is a very long way of saying that what you see on the web, on TV, and--if you still actually read one--in newspapers is more often than not the product of someone with an agenda sitting in the war room of a campaign office. While I don't pretend to know much of anything of substance about this current election, I do know what to watch out for in terms of plants, misinformation, and trickery. At times it makes me feel like a fruitcake conspiracy theorist. Thing is, that's all campaigns really are. They are one big conspiracy designed to get their candidate in office.

Here are a few fun things to munch on.

  • E.F Hutton and the Clinton campaign response--When Bill Shaheen speaks, he doesn't do it lightly. When he speaks to the Washington Post and makes comments about Barak Obama's drug use, it is no accident. Shaheen has been a major player in this business longer than most reporters have known what a Democrat is. Most people would have us believe Shaheen's comments were offered without the full knowledge that he would soon be removed from the Clinton campaign, that they were remarks made unilaterally. If it had been a twenty-something campaign staffer who said it, I might be inclined to believe it was a simple mistake. Bill Shaheen, however? No way. Here's the fun part: Because it was Shaheen and because he is no longer with the campaign, the story has twice the legs it did before. What might have been an up and down story is now more than a week old, and nearly every account includes mention of Obama's teenage drug use. Even this one. Well played, folks.

  • Huckabee? Really?--In one month, the former Arkansas Governor came back from a nearly 20-point deficit in national Republican polls to tie Rudy Giuliani for the horse race lead. From this we can learn two things. First, polls are, by and large, worthless. John Edwards could announce today that he cured cancer in his basement and not make up an 18 point deficit in the polls. For Huckabee to rise that fast means something is going on and it ain't Huckabee on his own. Second, Huckabee is capital P perfect for both the Democrats and Republicans. He is an evangelical Christian who once hinted that AIDS patients should be quarantined. Democrats are banking on the hopes that America won't elect another evangelical to the Presidency. Republicans--especially the ones like Divorced Rudy Giuliani and Mormon Mitt Romney--need a "hey, look over there!" guy. Enter Huckabee. When people refer to a meteoric rise, they often forget to mention that the end of a meteor's rise is a quick descent. Thanks for playing your part, Huck. I'm sure there will be a good ambassadorship available to you in a year or so.

  • It was a book shelf!-- My goodness, I love this Huckabee campaign ad. It is everything and nothing in one ad buy. It gives Huck a chance to talk about how he's not like the other guys and how he loves God. Further, it gives the libs a chance to laugh what looks like a floating cross in the background. Huckabee half-heartedly protests that the cross is actually a book shelf. Even better, that's the truth. But please. Please. Unless you are John Edwards and buying ads in South Carolina, you are spending massive amounts of money to produce and distribute campaign ads. Like I mentioned above, there are no mistakes. Now, with demo-pundits making asses of themselves for insulting religion and Huckabee putting it all out there, nobody gets to win, except maybe the people who are getting paid to produce the ads in the first place.

  • Edwards' love monkey-- I've spent the past 12 hours or so trying to figure out the motivation for the hit piece in the Enquirer about John Edwards' alleged love child. His candidacy doesn't pose much of a threat to anybody as far as I can determine. Maybe it is just The Enquirer being the Enquirer. Any thoughts?

    Labels: , , , , , , ,

  • Tuesday, December 18, 2007


    I am afflicted.

    I have tinnitus. It's only in my right ear. Despite its constant manifestation, it doesn't bother me that much. I'm to blame for it, almost certainly. Countless live shows, too much time standing in front of giant amplifiers, too much caffeine. They can all cause it. I don't care. It's not going to kill me.

    I notice it most at times like this, when the house is quiet. The hum of the fridge, the occasional drip in the faucet, and a near-constant ringing in my ear. They are all signs that the kid, the wife, and the dog are nestled in quiet slumber while I sit in front of an artificial world. The ringing reminds me that only part of what I see is real. It doesn't, however, tell me which part.

    When everything is noisy and active, it's easy to ignore the ringing. This afternoon, the wife had gone to work out. I stood watching my roux turn from white, to blond, to brown. My whisk didn't stop moving. Fear of a burned roux was the only thing keeping me going. All the while, the boy pounded with a wooden spoon on an overturned pot.

    "Daddy, I am making the perfect drum," he said, as if it were the most natural goal in the world.

    "Who told you to make the perfect drum?" I said, making sure the roux wasn't sticking to the pan.


    It's easy to get caught up in the noise. It's so simple to ignore the constant ringing in favor of sounds that make us feel better. When the back beat is perfect, tapping one's foot is almost involuntary. It is as if we're being led somewhere. It's so much easier, and frankly, so much more fun to just roll with it. I like living in that world. It's comfortable and had led me to more beautiful places than I ever thought I'd know.

    Now, though, it's quiet. Everyone is asleep. The music isn't playing. All I hear are the clicks and clacks of my keyboard and a constant ringing in my ears. I know for sure that one of the noises means nothing.

    As for the other, only time will tell.

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Where normal meets life

    Once returned from Las Vegas, the everyday activity between waking and sleeping seems quite ordinary. This is the way it happens every time. There is relief at being home, followed by latent endorphin withdrawal, followed by sense of contentment at the normal things in life.

    And it is quite normal. Friday night was a ridiculous evening of bar hopping with my fellow thirty-something married male friends. Saturday night was date night with the wife (Portafino's chicken marsala was good, "I Am Legend" was about what you'd expect). Sunday was making ziti, taking the kid to "Alvin and the Chipmunks," and then watching "Good Night, and Good Luck."

    You know, normal.

    In fact, apart watching my wife jump out of her seat during "I Am Legend," the most significant event of the weekend was the arrival of my first-ever Netflix DVDs. Sure, I know I'm late to the game. In the past, I had a hard time justifying the cost of the service. Even I couldn't understand my resistance to the service. I mean, I spent $20 in a jukebox battle on Friday night, but 'm not going to spend $15 a month to get unlimited movies? I didn't make sense.

    A few nights ago, however, I figured it all out.

    I have had HBO for as long as I have been an adult. With DirecTV, HBO cost me $13 a month. The wife and I also spend about $12-15 a month renting DVDs. Once "The Sopranos" went off for good, I realized that HBO had nothing more to offer me but Inside the NFL and Real Sports. I decided I could live without those shows, canceled HBO, and signed up with Netflix.

    The decision turned out to be pretty easy. I signed up for the plan that gives me unlimited DVDs (two at a time) and unlimited streaming movies on my laptop. Within a week, the subscription has already paid for itself. I've been a little giddy over the service and spent more than a little time setting up my queue of films. Any recommendations?

    Normal life is a pretty comfortable thing. It rarely lasts as long as I'd like, but when it happens, I tend to enjoy it. If my calculations are right, this normalcy should last about two weeks before life gets odd again.

    I'll take it while I can get it.

    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    An introduction to Rapid Eye Reality

    Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of Brad Willis, a semi-pro blogger and freelance writer who is sometimes known as "Otis." Any questions not answered below can be e-mailed to editor@pokerpapers.com.

    Who is this Otis character?

    Between 1999 and 2004, I was a reporter for the then #1 television station in Upstate South Carolina. I served as the chief crime, political, and investigative reporter for many years. In 2001, I started this blog as an anonymous outlet for my non-television personality. As some of the stories here can be a bit blue and not necessarily in line with TV reporters' morality clauses, I needed a pseudonym to protect my identity. I picked one of my many nicknames and stuck with that. After giving up the TV life for something a little more adventurous, I realized that many people knew me only as Otis. So, for better or worse, the pseudonym became more of a second identity. I'll answer to my real name or Otis.

    How do I find those old stories?

    All of the archives of this blog are available in the right sidebar. I've not deleted anything from the old days. I won't necessarily point you to the incriminating evidence, but it is there if you want to find it.

    So, you're not in TV anymore? Is it because you were a bad boy?

    Not bad so much as listless. The thing about TV news is that it is not nearly as glamorous as you might think. The pay stinks, the hours suck, and, more often than not, the reward for work well done is more work. I treasured the people I met during my time in television and still miss it from time to time. Hell, I may even go back one day. For the time being, though, I'm focusing on other things.

    Other things? Are you one of those people who claim to be an actress but is really a waitress?

    Maybe. I don't even know. The long story won't fit in this post. The short version is this: This guy recommended me for a freelance job covering a poker tournament in the Bahamas. At the end of one week of work, the people running the tournament asked me to cover poker tournaments in a lot of different places. I quit my job two weeks later and flew to Copenhagen, Denmark. Since then, I've been to tournaments all over Europe, America, and in the Caribbean.

    They pay people to write about poker? You have to be kidding?

    I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere, but no, I'm not kidding. Since quitting TV, I've written for a few different publications and web sites. I also do a lot of writing at a web site titled Up For Poker.

    Do you play poker, too?

    It depends on how you define the word "play." But, yeah, I spend a lot of time at the card tables. I make a few trips to Las Vegas every year and, before the cops and robbers started getting frisky, spent many an hour in the underground poker scene in Greenville. For a short look at what that scene was like during its heyday, check out The Last Poker Game.

    So, you're a degenerate gambler. That's just great.

    There might have been a day in which that phrase fit, but not so much anymore. I still play a lot of poker, but not so much that it will get me in trouble. I have focused my efforts in other areas. And if I am a gambler, I come by it honestly. Read: Grandpa Was a Gambler.

    Likely story. So, what are these alleged other interests?

    For the past three years, I have functioned as a pro blogger. That is, I get paid to write on blogs. I make money in other more boring ways, too. When I'm not doing that, I blog here for fun. Rapid Eye Reality is where I tell the back stories that take place around everything else that happens in my life.

    Like what?

    Well, first and foremost, I am a husband, father, and suburban warrior. To get a glimpse at my more mundane side, read Suburban Landscapes. Sometimes, it's hard to maintain both sides of my life, but I manage best I can, as told in Timeless. I am also an amateur photographer. That means I have an eye for photos, but not much real technical skill. However, I do get some good ones from time to time, like these in Boys of Summer.

    Seems like you aren't really a news blogger. In fact, you don't have much of a niche at all.

    Odd, huh? When people ask me how to have a successful blog, I tell them to be themselves and find a niche. I only do half of that right. I've never been much of a niche guy. I try, but I find that so much of life's interesting parts cross the lines from niche to niche. Plus, I get bored easily. Still, I have a few niches here that some people have found interesting. For instance, I wrote quite a bit about the death of a local boy named Devon Epps and the murder of Clemson student Tiffany Souers. I also have a history with such dignitaries in South Carolina as Ronnie Sheppard and Kevin Geddings. So, I get sort if niche-y from time to time.

    That all? Because I have something on the stove.

    Sure, you run on. If you feel like coming back, there is a ton here to read. Some of it is good, some bad, and some downright depressing. The good thing is, I don't get paid much to write here, so it stays fun most of the time.

    Here are a few posts from the past few years that might give you a slightly better idea of how I spend my time.

    The Steve Earle Guitar

    Otis and the Magic Door

    The Swiss Cheese Incident

    True Romance


    Mr A. in the Big A

    Wrinkled in Europe

    Stuck in Monte Carlo

    A night at Jimmyz

    Walking in Deauville


    When I got out of bed at 4:45 last Thursday morning, it was freezing outside. I was headed to Vegas, so I didn't bother wearing a heavy coat. When I returned yesterday morning, I was wearing a fleece jacket. I stripped it off when I realized it was in the high 70s and sunny.

    This afternoon, I am already almost recovered from my four-day jaunt to Vegas (full stories will be chronicled over the next few days at Up For Poker). I've settled into work catch-up, playing with my new iPod, and wearing no shoes or socks. I have the back door of the house wide open. It's still like late summer outside and can find no reason to complain.

    I spent the last few days talking to writers and computer geeks about my future. No fewer than three people cornered me and said something along the lines of, "You are going nowhere until you tell me what's going on in your life, Mr. Mysterious." At least one loosened me up with free beer.

    The silly thing was, I don't even know what I am doing with my life, so I had a hard time explaining it to others. Hopefully, by the next time I see these friends I will be able to say, "Yeah, I'm doing X and loving it."

    In the meantime, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Zicam in a foxhole

    I'm currently involved in medicine's version of finding Jesus in a foxhole. Last night saw me use the swab and spray version of Zicam. I also pounded a glass of Airborne. Do I think these remedies work. No. Am I willing to believe they work as long as they don't keep me from getting sick this weekend? Absolutely.

    This will be the fourth consecutive year I've taken this trip. In 2004, I had a ball. In 2005, I didn't feel so great. In 2006, I got "just kill me now" sick. This year, I'm doing everything I can to get back as close to 2004 standards as I can.

    If you're not a parent, you might not understand how hard this can be. The boy brings home two or three monkey viruses a month and between October and February remains in a semi-constant state of Centers for Disease Control attention. I thought I was in good shape when I got sick earlier this year. You know, antibodies and all. However, and maybe it is just my imagination, but I'm feeling a little stuffy, little scratchy, and a little bleh. Therefore, I'm in my foxhole and drinking zinc gluconate by the gallon.

    Further compounding the problem, I am not at all focused on tasks that need attention. As a traveling companion wrote me this morning of his anticipatory glee, "I'm like a kid on Christmas eve. With ADD." Regardless, I am a year older today and am trying my best to act like the responsible human being I am supposed to be.

    I'm going to be semi-off-grid for the next four or five days. Any news from the trip will take place in the Twitter feed to the left or, in the event of cell phone pics, in the Buzznet feed at the bottom-left.

    I leave you with nature's birthday gift to me. For exactly three minutes yesterday, the sky was exactly as you see it below. Not so bad at all.

    Labels: ,

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Cleaning house for the aged

    "I'm going to clean out my closet," I said.

    G-Rob replied, "Is that a metaphor?"

    After nearly eight years of friendship, this guy knows me way too well.

    "Yeah, probably," I said. "But I really am going to clean out my closet."

    In the south, we grow kudzu, not because we want to, but because we have no choice. Someone brought it here and now it's going to grow regardless of our wants and whims. Same goes for my closet. It became my closet and now it is going to be messy.

    I took three thrash bags with me and filled one with garbage before I reached the floor. I found bills for cell phones I haven't owned in four years, flight coupons for trips I don't remember taking, and a stack of business cards that I never actually carried for fear of being arrested. It all went in the bag. Other stuff sat to the side, like the monogrammed flask (hall full, no less) and the various and sundry items surrounding my career in television and media: three IFBs, two or three reporter notebooks, and countless press passes (including, but not limited to a badge granting me access to John Edwards in 2004, two or three presidential address Secret Service badges for both Bush and Clinton, and one I actually stole from the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London, England).

    I filled the second bag with clothes to give away. Five pairs of black dress shoes, two or three pairs of pants, a few shirts, and some giveaway items that I have collected over my years for working for a client.

    Finally, I headed to some drawers where I keep underclothes and such. One drawer was so full that I could barely open it. There was a time, see, when I wore a white t-shirt nearly every day under my work clothes. Because of that and the fact that I hate doing laundry (the wife has taken over the duty in the house, only because it won't get done unless she doesn't), I had more than 20 white undershirts. I stacked five of the cleaner ones to the side and prepared to throw the rest away.

    As I was about to throw one in the bag, I notice black Sharpie on the collar. I took a closer look and noticed my father's name written in my mother's hand. It was a shirt I'd somehow picked up when my dad was in the hospital and rehab center during and after his three brain surgeries. I rarely consider myself much of a man, but whatever maturity I have started forming around that time in 2003. I retrieved the shirt from the throwaway pile and tucked it back in the drawer.

    Cleaning or no, we all need to keep some reminders.

    (Upon re-reading the above, it sort of makes it sound like my Dad died. He will tell you that he's doing just fine, thank you. He just should've died. Like three times. Instead, he's playing the best golf of his life and not doing much else that could be considered work. All in all, not so bad for a guy in his 60s.)


    I see Uncle Ted every couple of months. He speaks his mind. He's like that.

    He came over a couple of weeks ago and wasn't in the door 30 seconds before he broke into a chorus of, "Gray, gray, gray, gray!"

    I didn't have to ask what he was talking about. I think I muttered something profane and shuffled away to look for my walker.

    The aging man's lament is so trite that I dare not repeat it this year. On my birthday last year, I talked about the choice I made. This year, I'm letting the day slide by with little fanfare. I decided to let this happen when I discovered, for the first time ever, I not only look a year older, I feel a year older.

    This is not to say I mind. After I get through this awkward old man's adolescence, I'm going to be well on my way to Distinguished. That should be a good time. Of course, if the books tell us anything, it's a short road between being becoming distinguished and having someone feed you your soup. In that case, my wife and kid got me some fantastic German steel knives to mark the occasion that could probably put a quick end to it all.

    If no marketing genius has come up with this yet, I think there is probably a great advertising campaign for knives aimed at seniors: "We'll still be sharp when you're not!"

    Labels: ,

    Advertisting inquiries to:
    blackjack terminology
    New canadian casino online poker web, which is owned by 888 casino announced launching before a few months. They are focusing only on Canadians and their specific needs (e.g. payment methods etc.),so you are able to play online games such as poker comfortably in your national background.

    August 2001
    September 2001
    October 2001
    November 2001
    December 2001
    January 2002
    February 2002
    March 2002
    April 2002
    May 2002
    June 2002
    July 2002
    August 2002
    September 2002
    October 2002
    November 2002
    December 2002
    January 2003
    February 2003
    March 2003
    April 2003
    May 2003
    June 2003
    July 2003
    August 2003
    September 2003
    October 2003
    November 2003
    December 2003
    January 2004
    February 2004
    March 2004
    April 2004
    May 2004
    June 2004
    July 2004
    August 2004
    September 2004
    October 2004
    November 2004
    December 2004
    January 2005
    February 2005
    March 2005
    April 2005
    May 2005
    June 2005
    July 2005
    August 2005
    September 2005
    October 2005
    November 2005
    December 2005
    January 2006
    February 2006
    March 2006
    April 2006
    May 2006
    June 2006
    July 2006
    August 2006
    September 2006
    October 2006
    November 2006
    December 2006
    January 2007
    February 2007
    March 2007
    April 2007
    May 2007
    June 2007
    July 2007
    August 2007
    September 2007
    October 2007
    November 2007
    December 2007
    January 2008
    February 2008
    Current Posts
        Creative Commons License

    Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
    All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license